Pecatonica Historical Society member Vi Johns poses with a Service Flag she owns. This flag came from Rockford, but is much like the Service Flag from Pecatonica in WWI.

Should American Legion Post 197 be renamed?
By Doug Schroder
Pecatonica Historical Society member Vi Johns has been researching about Service Flags for a while now.
Service Flags, also called Blue Star Flags, are a military tradition that was started during WWI.
According to online sources the Service Flag is an official banner authorized by the Department of Defense for display by families who have members serving in the Armed Forces during any period of war or hostilities the United States may be engaged in for the duration of the hostilities.
Each blue star on the flag represents a service member on active duty. A gold star is affixed over the blue star if a service member is killed in action or dies in service. The gold star should be smaller than the blue star to create a blue border surrounding the gold star.
In various communities throughout the United States Service Flags would be made by mothers. Pecatonica was one such community that had a Service Flag for WWI, although it is unknown who made the flag or where it is today.
While Mrs. Johns was researching about the flag she came across an old undated picture of the flag in Pecatonica as it flew over Main Street. She also came across a newspaper article from 1918.
The headline of the article was GOLD STAR PUT IN SERVICE FLAG. The article goes on to tell how Luke Hieronimus Jr. was the first Pecatonica boy to sacrifice his life in World War. He was one of the last to leave town for the service, entering Camp Grant in Rockford on Sept. 5 where he contracted Spanish Influenza and died just a few days later.
“The news of the sudden taking of this bright young man came as a great shock to his friends and acquaintances and brought home to us all the first full realization of the serious results which were to follow in the wake of the terrible epidemic,” the article reported.
This is where Johns found a discrepancy concerning American Legion Post 197 in Pecatonica. The post was dedicated in 1925 and named after Eugene J. Barloga, a soldier from Pecatonica who, according to American Legion Post 197 history, was the first soldier from Pec to die in the Great War.
Barloga died on Oct. 20, 1918, which is more than a month after Hieronimus’ reported death.
How, or why, this mix up occurred is not definite at this time. Perhaps the naming of the post was done to gain the favor of Eugene Barloga’s brother, Jesse Barloga, an architect who ended up designing American Legion Post 197 when it was built. That is purely speculation though.
A few relatives from the Hieronimus family still live in the area, but could not be reached for comment by the print deadline.
A question stemming from this situation now begs to be asked. Should American Legion Post 197 be renamed to reflect the new facts brought to light? That remains to be seen.
If you have any addition information about this subject contact Doug Schroder at

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